Mark your calendars for August 20th, as the hit Zenescope Entertainment character Robyn Hood gets her own ongoing series. After getting an advanced review copy I can safely say it’s good reading so after some prodding, and attempted stalking, I was able to wrangle Robyn Hood creator Pat Shand into an interview to discuss the series.
Check out the full review of Robyn Hood (Ongoing) #1!
AiPT: So let’s get started, Robyn Hood finally gets an ongoing series it deserves, debuting August 20th. How does it feel creating a character and it getting an ongoing?
Pat Shand: It feels like the best thing ever. You know that feeling where you’re at the theatre on opening night of a film you really want to see? Like, so much so that you’re dressed in a super dorky outfit and you’re just nerdraging all night? I’ve felt that way consistently since I saw “Robyn Hood – ongoing #1” on the publishing schedule.
And PS, that is totally how I found out. I’d been hoping for an ongoing since before the first issue of the first miniseries came out, and the way I found out it was gonna be an ongoing was I found a discarded publishing schedule under some folders at the Zenescope booth at NYCC. What even.
AiPT: Something admirable about this series is how strong the character is and how sexualized she isn’t, both in drawings and treatment. Considering how strong you’ve written this lead, how do you feel female characters are portrayed these days?
Pat Shand: There’s a definite imbalance. It’s no secret that the white, hetero, cis male is the go-to protagonist in our field. However, I think books like Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, Lumberjanes, Smut Peddler, and a bunch of other great comics are shaking things up and showing the industry that people – the readers, the writers, the artists, all of us – want change. We don’t want books only a small portion of our audience can relate to. We want representation. There’s always room for improvement, but the fact that those books exist and are affecting change makes me aspire to do better, to be better, because portrayal of women matters.
I really appreciate you commenting on how we’ve presented Robyn. We specifically and purposely subverted the idea that this was going to be a “sexy” Robyn in the opening scene. What matters to me is that Robyn, Marian, and Sam – along with the other characters we’ll be introducing – feel like people.
AiPT: Yes, I noticed that the opening sequence, not to give spoilers, was very much playing to people’s expectations, but ends up pulling the rug out from them, which only punctuated the point you were making. To open the book that way seems to be a very strong statement from you about what direction you’re taking this. Would you say this book is trying to do what many of the books you listed have done already for female characters?
Pat Shand: You’ll notice that the books I listed are all by women, though, and I think that’s an important part of the equation. It’s my goal to represent authentic and diverse women in a way that would – I hope – surprise people skeptical of the book because of the covers. But I also don’t want folks to stop there. Read the books I mentioned, read what we’re doing. Zenescope is putting out Wonderland by Erica J. Heflin, Goddess Inc. by LaToya Morgan. Our new Charmed: Season Ten series, which I have the insane and staggering pleasure of writing, is drawn and colored by Elisa Feliz and Valentina Cuomo. I’m going off on a tangent, I guess, but I’m super, super passionate about this as a writer, sure, but even more as an editor. Shannon Watters, an editor I admire a crazy lot, tweeted just today: “I just edit comics, man, but that gives me a tiny amount of power, and I’m gonna use that power to publish more rad lady-fronted comic books. You gotta take your gatekeeper responsibility seriously and try to always do better, because it enriches us all, the whole dang industry.” If every editor thought that way, and if every writer wanted to really strive to be genuine in their portrayal of women as, you know, people, the industry would be in a shiny happy place.
AiPT: I can’t help but enjoy the fact that you have a cat in this series. What was the inspiration and driving force for this character?
Pat Shand: I’m a giant cat nerd. I have two. One is a fluffy, huge, giant, is-he-a-cat-or-a-mythological-beast sized Maine coon named Westley (part Princess Bride, part Wyndam-Price) and the other is a black American short hair named Odo (Trek!). I figured Robyn is the kind of girl to have a cat.
As far as talking, Robyn’s kitty won’t say anything that a norms cat wouldn’t say, though. She’s just… super vocal. It’s funny, though, I actually just finished #4 and #5, which is the second arc of the series, and ANOTHER cat features fairly heavily in that arc. I have problems, all right?
AiPT: Some might say it’s only a problem if we don’t get any talking dogs.
Pat Shand: No promises.
AiPT: One of the characters brings up MDMA, AKA Ecstasy, in Robyn Hood #1. what is your experience with the drug?
Pat Shand: I’m what Mia Wallace might refer to as a square. I wish I had an interesting story, but I’m just super not into drugs. I have no real moral stance against personal choices, I’m just scared shitless of that kind of stuff and have no interest. It’s just research, baby! Tricked you.
AiPT: I imagine magic drugs are super way off limits then!
Pat Shand: You ever wonder about what goes on behind the scenes in Harry Potter? You freakin’ KNOW some of those Slytherin kids are fucking with some magical blow. Come on.
AiPT: The characters in this series are very strong, and that’s from reading only the first issue. Do you have a back story or dossier written up on them? How do you create such realistic and robust characters?
Pat Shand: Gah, thanks so much. The stories I love are character-driven stories, and the characters I’ve cared about in the fiction I truly love have deeply impacted the core of who I am. I mean, next to all of my values come from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, and Harry Potter. So I guess I just try to live up to the ideals that the authors I admire have achieved. I want my characters to breathe, to jump off the page, so I write and I edit and I edit and I write until I’ve got something I’m proud of.
AiPT: Humor is a tough nut to crack. When it comes to humor, do you write jokes out and insert them into the scripts, or do you get to a point where a joke should land and think it up as you go?
Pat Shand: Never the former. The jokes all come from the weird humor of the set-up. Marian is a witch from a different dimension who is in love with Earth culture but doesn’t understand it. Robyn is a half-blind archer with anxiety and a tendency to punch things she doesn’t like in the face. They have a cat. I really have no idea.
AiPT: Thor was recently turned into a woman. Any idea if Robyn Hood will be turned into a man in the future?
Pat Shand: Over my dead body. A male Robyn Hood would never work!
AiPT: Hypothetical time: you are a clothing store window model in Times Square. You have three options: Dress as a giant baby in a diaper (bonnet, pacifier etc), dressed in S&M with ball gag and all, or you are completely naked painted as an animal…what do you choose?
Pat Shand: There are overwhelming positive and negative sides to all of those things. I guess I have to ask… what kind of animal? Is anything off limits, or is the whole animal kingdom at my fingertips?
AiPT: Any animal your heart so desires!
Pat Shand: Would anyone ever turn down the opportunity to be a penguin? Come on. Don’t even with me.
Check out our review of Robyn Hood: Ongoing #1 here, and pick it up wherever Zenescope comics are sold.